An open letter to the management & board of directors of Wells Fargo
As business professionals, you must recognize that building and maintaining customer trust creates more value for the corporation than any product or service. That’s particularly true today, in markets with more supply than demand. So I have to assume that the pain you’re inflicting on your health savings account (HSA) customers has escaped your notice. Unfortunately, that represents a severe lack of oversight on your parts.
Recently, I blogged about your failure to provide your customers proper access to their HSA account deposits―and customer inability to reach your HSA department through any communication channel. I titled the blog, “How Do 60 Minute Wait Times & 10% Unemployment Relate?” (http://tinyurl.com/2935azd) to focus on the disconnect between customer service understaffing and the high availability of skilled employees, many desperate for work. While I was using Wells Fargo as a pertinant case example, I intended a broader focus applying to the many other companies are similarly short-changing customers to save money.
However, subsequent communication from other customers plus reflection on past experiences tell me I grossly understated the problem relative to Wells Fargo specifically.
Here’s feedback to the blog I received from other customers:
“Wells Fargo turns its HSA customers off
My husband and I got the same shameful treatment as you did. We can’t use our family’s 1 (and only) new HSA card because Wells Fargo WITHOUT MY HUSBAND’S PERMISSION changed his HSA fluid account funds into an “investment only” status. Telephone lines are tied up endlessly. And he cannot even access the account online anymore because Wells Fargo made his old password obsolete when they issued him a new card and account number (WITHOUT HIS PERMISSION).
…I’m of the opinion that my husband I should lodge a complaint with the state of California’s Department of Financial Institutions. Wells Fargo due to its high-handed draconian new policies has in effect confiscated our HSA money preventing us from using it for our family’s pressing medical needs. We cannot even transfer the HSA funds to another banking institution.”
“Should be a class action suit against Wells Fargo
I also (unfortunately) have an HSA with Wells Fargo, and have been trying to contact their customer service for 2 weeks, to no avail. I call the “customer service” line and get put on hold for an hour or longer and never get through. You cannot email them if you have an HSA, they do not provide any email address or email form to HSA customers. What a nightmare! This is the worst most customer unfriendly banking experience of my life. I will never bank with Wells Fargo again.”
With lots of persistence and hours with my office phone on speakerphone so I could hear, “We value your business…” or whatever over and over again―for hours―I was finally able to reach customer service. Only then did I learn HSA recently switched over to an insufficiently tested new computer system that’s altering customers’ accounts on its own and not even able to issue more than one debit card per account.
Wells Fargo joins many other companies in experiencing catastrophic customer service issues following unsuccessful system transitions. But I know of no similar situation (except for fraud cases) involving restricting or blocking customer access to money they’ve deposited with a financial institution. Further, it’s unthinkable for an FI to fail to communicate with customers―either proactively or even reactively―regarding their inability to access their money. Wells Fargo is callously treating customer money as its own, earning money on it, and getting around to “dispensing” money to customers on its own schedule.
Why is Wells Fargo doing this? Don’t you understand that today’s customers are highly transient? Don’t you understand that honestly and openly communicating with customers about problems (see Johnson & Johnson) produces far better outcomes than hiding problems and hiding from customers inside your firewalls?
On your website you offer a quote from your Chairman & CEO, John Stumpf:
“Integrity is not a commodity. It’s the most rare and precious of personal attributes. It is the core of a person’s — and a company’s — reputation.”
Clearly, Wells Fargo as an organization does not subscribe to these principles. Your HSA function has fundamentally broken trust with customers, showing a distinct lack of integrity and no sign of responsibility to them. And this is not an isolated incident for Wells Fargo, just the most recent and acute.
A couple of years back I posted a blog on CustomerThink, a global gathering site for business people serious about building and maintaining customer relationships. The title is, “Wells Fargo: Fifty Ways to Leave Your Customer” (http://tinyurl.com/28svo7o). While even my most popular posts rarely exceed 1,000 hits, this one has attracted 18,059 hits to date. Why do you think this happened?
Wake up folks. You have lots and lots of angry customers out there. They deserve better (as do shareholders). And if customers don’t get better, you’ll soon need to close lots more than your retail lending storefronts.
Principal, High-Yield Methods